This week, we witnessed CNN report the wrong facts in the Boston bomber case. A suspect was under arrest. Then he wasn't under arrest. Other news outlets reported what CNN reported. So they were wrong too. Watch the men in the press room while they're covering the Earl Williams execution story. His Girl Friday feels relevant.
Journalism. Politics. Ethnicity. Guns. Topics of this week in a fast 1940 comedy remake. As I mentioned, 1931 saw the first film version of The Front Page.
In the Howard Hawks sex-change version, Ralph Bellamy plays the nice dork of a man eager to marry Hildy. We side with Walter. Bruce is not the man for Hildy. He gets in the way of her work. He doesn't understand her journalistic talent. He doesn't see that she can do as "a newspaperman" what lawyers didn't. As for remakes, this is a rare case in which a remake is just as good if not better than the original. It's in that championship league with George Cukor's Holiday and A Star Is Born, William Wyler's Ben-Hur and the George Stevens remake of An American Tragedy retitled A Place in the Sun.
Another thing: A few years ago when I still lived in New York City, a Logo TV exec contacted me. He asked me to suggest movies the channel could air during Gay Pride Month. The movies could be old classics. Logo just wanted films with gay characters in them. Films that weren't usually seen during a Gay Pride Month. I suggested His Girl Friday. In The Front Page, Bensinger is played by Edward Everett Horton. He's an obvious fussbudget. He's prissy and afraid of germs. He's always got his handkerchief handy. He's a bit of an outsider in the press room.
There were other versions of The Front Page.
Billy Wilder returned to the original in his 1974 remake of The Front Page with Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Susan Sarandon and Carol Burnett as the hooker, Mollie Malloy. Yes, Carol Burnett. In Wilder's version, Bensiger (played by David Wayne) is quite obviously gay and doesn't have the basic "regular guy" vibe of Bensinger in Hawks' remake. He's a snooty fussbudget.
Of all the new versions, the crown for remaking The Front Page still goes to Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. This 1940 classic holds up very, very well. It's fast, funny and packs a pretty fierce punch.